by Kathy Beard
Spring, 2009. Not quite a year after the death of my husband John, Jesus began rebuilding my life in surprising ways. It was as though He was telling me that the experiences and deep lessons I had learned about Him during the four years spent taking care of my beloved husband through his dementia were now going to be turned into living water for other lives.
Many things happened in 2009 confirming that this was so: I had been to Israel the last year of John’s life with Joel Rosenberg’s Joshua Fund tour and had become acquainted with Joel and the Executive Directors of Joshua Fund and now they were considering having me as a part of their team taking volunteers to Israel to do work projects on war torn homes at the borders of Gaza and Lebanon. This of course would be the fulfillment of a decade long dream of mine. Next, I had been corresponding for a couple of years with a friend, Michelle Crotts, who is a missionary in Honduras and she invited me to do a women’s conference in Honduras in the coming Fall. Finally, in the process of raising support for that trip, I met up with another missionary friend, Ginny Jackson, who invited me to travel in June to the Operation Mobilization Logos Hope ministry ship as her guest while it was docked in Cork, Ireland.
It was like a smorgasbord of ministry opportunities and I was floored. An old joke in my family is that no one can take me to a buffet or potluck because I load up my plate and can never finish all the food—I want it all! This goes way back and has not changed much over the years, unfortunately. Now I was facing a veritable potluck of the best spiritual feast I have ever encountered and I was ready to do it all! First, I did travel to Ireland, all alone, and met up with Ginny on the ship. Can I just say, Wow! This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life—living for ten days on a ship with over 400 believers from over forty countries. Their ages ranged from 18 to 80—all volunteers, who were passionate about Jesus. I was in Heaven for that ten days and Ginny and I had some wonderful travel experiences as we traveled to the Operation Mobilization Ireland headquarters in the northern part of the country, taking little side excursions along the way. Being Irish, it was a dream of a lifetime for me. But nothing—and I mean nothing—compared to the fellowship with all of those believers from so many countries.
Coming home I was in full blown planning for the Israel project and loving every minute of it.
Honduras was sort of on the back burner at that time; it was not someplace I had always dreamed of visiting and I had never done a women’s conference of that size before, nevertheless I began preparing the talks, gathering my team and raising support. But my heart was in Israel, as it has been since the early 1990s when God put it on my heart to begin praying for Israel and the Jewish people. And of course, I really wanted to look into ministering with OM Logos Hope. I was 59 years old, thinking I could do it all and I was ready to do it all.
Once my mind was turned to focus on the Honduras conference, the talks began to formulate and gel and as they did a deep passion began to burn in me for the Honduran women who would be attending. We would be staying in a little village, Manzaragua, high up in the mountains where poverty was rampant and where these women had never experienced anything like this before. My team of four began planning the workshops they would be doing—some teachings, some crafts and cooking projects and we were busy putting together gift bags of lip balms, jewelry and other items for the women. Finally the day arrived to leave. I had become a bit of a seasoned traveler by this time, having traveled to Israel twice and Ireland once, by myself, so traveling was not giving me the butterflies in my stomach; teaching four talks with a translator were the culprit there. How would they respond? Would they receive us? Was I even capable of a project of this size?
Nothing could have prepared me for what happened in Honduras in the fall of 2009. Women came, walking long distances—miles—to get to the conference, bringing their children and some brought their husbands, through the mountains to hear the women from North America tell about Jesus. It was a women’s conference, but the men all hung around the open doors of the old schoolhouse and listened in. Looking out over the 70 or so brown faces, tears coming down, smiles so big you could drive a truck through those white teeth and so many kisses and hugs and thank-you’s that I was left speechless and overwhelmed by the love we received. Would they ever know that the blessings were all ours? That they blessed us more than we ever could have blessed them? Would they know that their faces would be imprinted upon our minds and hearts forever?
And so began a yearly women’s conference—going on year four now. Each year we are left astonished at what the Holy Spirit shows up to do in our midst. Though the conferences have since been at the conference center in Tegucigalpa, run by Michelle’s ministry, we still travel back to the little village in Manzaragua and we have to do the conference there as well, and the little Church still fills up with women from miles around and we leave every year, our faces damp with kisses and tears. The Israel project never got off the ground, and neither did serving with Logos Hope, but my heart is forever in Honduras.
(For information on how you can become a part of the support team of the Honduras Women’s Conference, please contact Kathy Beard at firstname.lastname@example.org)
KATHLEEN BEARD is a writer and teacher of Bible studies who has taught women’s Bible studies since 1993. Her public speaking engagements have carried her to many parts of the U.S. and Honduras for retreats and conferences. As a Chaplain for Marketplace Ministries, she has ministered to staff at care centers in the Prescott area. In 2009, she was involved for a short time with Joshua Fund Ministries, a ministry to Israel and has traveled to Israel twice. Kathy’s desire to see women set free from bondage has allowed her to disciple many women through Freedom in Christ Ministries and Abiding Life Ministries International. Her love for missions has developed recently into training leaders for short term mission trips through her Church. Married for 23 years to John, she cared for him during the last four years of his life as he suffered dementia and she has written a book, Into the Mist: Journey Into Dementia, which tells in journalistic style of the daily caretaking and walk with the Lord through this very difficult time. She has two grown sons and is the happy grandmother to five grandchildren.
Kathy loves the Lord and loves His people; she is available for speaking to women’s conferences and ministries. www.intothemistbook.com.